A day after there were reports that the former president of South Africa was placed on life support, there's news today that Nelson Mandela's health has taken a sharp turn for the worst. "I won't lie, it doesn't look good," said Mandela's daughter Makaziwe, after a visit to his Pretoria hospital Thursday morning. "But as I say, if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He's still there. He might be waning off, but he's still there," she said in a radio interview with SABC.
Makazie's words coincide with South African President Jacob Zuma clearing his schedule today and canceling a meeting in Mozambique, Reuters reported. "Over the past 48 hours, the condition of former president Madiba has gone down," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said. (Mandela is fondly known as Madiba.)
Mandela's health has dominated papers and headlines in South Africa for the last month after he was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for a pneumonia, an especially dangerous condition for a 94-year-old. Moreover, Mandela has been admitted for lung infections three times in the last eight months—Mandela had two hospital stays (one of which doctors said was just a checkup) in March, and an 18-day stay in December. On Sunday, things took a turn for the worse when Mandela's condition was updated from "serious but stable" to "critical." And on Wednesday CNN had reported that Mandela was placed on life support.
President Obama arrived on the continent on Wednesday for a week-long trip with his family in sub-Saharan Africa starting in Senegal. Obama issued a brief statement regarding Mandela on Thursday:
POTUS: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of South Africa .. and the Mandela family. ... He's a personal hero."— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) June 27, 2013
The First Family is scheduled to visit South Africa on its tour, but CBS News's Major Garrett reported that it's unclear if the Obamas itinerary will be affected if Mandela passes away.
Update 8:42 a.m. Eastern: Zuma has released a statement saying that Mandela is "much better today than he was when I saw him last night." But it's unclear how to gauge what "much better" means considering Mandela was reportedly placed on life support yesterday.